One of the coolest things about sobriety is that you start to learn who you are. What is even cooler is that you become OKAY with who you are. This has been one of the best parts of sobriety for me. I have discovered a lot of things about myself. I like jigsaw puzzles. I like slam poetry. I don't like putting on a lot of make up. I don't like wearing heels. I really like coffee. I'm this wonderful mix of quirky things and I am happy with that. Something that I have discovered that has really taken me by surprise though is that I think I am a closeted introvert. If you would have asked me years ago I would have identified myself as an extrovert but today I'm leaning more towards the other end of the spectrum. My mom is a self-proclaimed introvert and I never thought I had that same personality. Well guess what? Now that I'm sober, I do. I think it was there the whole time but I was masking it. I was trying to be what YOU wanted me to be which was an extroverted party girl. Or so I thought. Maybe not. I digress. The thing is that I love my friends. I love my family. I love going out and participating in fun activites. I love to listen to people tell their stories and I love to laugh until I am crying. But...BUT. There is a whole other side to my personality which I believe is now the dominant one. The introverted side.
Mom recently sent me a link to a story that the Huffington Post did called, "23 Signs You're Secretly An Introvert." I was really surprised to see so much of myself in these. Take a look at these. Do you identify? Here are a few that I identified strongly with and the ones that made me think hmmm....
1. You go to parties - but not to meet people. This one basically says that as an introvert you like going to social functions but chances are that you aren't going there to meet new people. Most introverts would rather spend time with people they already know and feel comfortable with. If you happen to meet someone new, great, but that wasn't the goal. I mean thank goodness I have met a lot of wonderful new people in my life, however, this is very much me. At social functions you will find me with those people that I know and that know me. I won't be the one up working the room introducing myself to others and making small talk. Not happening. I'm not there to make a ton of new "friends" or acquaintances. I don't need to know everything about every person in there. I don't need to know when the next party is. Not my thing.
2. Downtime doesn't feel unproductive to you. One of the most fundamental characteristics of introverts is that they need time alone to recharge their batteries. Extroverts tend to get bored or antsy spending time alone. For an introvert this time feels necessary and enjoyable. YES. Give me a day with a good book, a good movie, some hot tea and a blanket and I'm good. I don't need constant activities and in fact if I don't have my downtime, I become very discontent.
3. Giving a talk in front of 500 people is less stressful than having to mingle with those same people afterwards. Oh man. I can identify with this. I have not spoken in front of 500 people but I have spoken in front of large groups and I rarely get nervous or stress about it. I am pretty comfortable at a podium speaking on a topic that I'm educated about. But to make small talk with people afterwards. Yikes. My awkward side is likely to come rolling right out when that happens.
4. You start to shut down after you've been active for too long. Once out and about for too long introverts tend to become tired or unresponsive. According to some, everything introverts do in the outside world causes them to expend energy, after which they will need to go back and replenish in a quiet environment. I've noticed that I do this more and more. I love socializing and I love participating in fun activities. But I reach a point where I hit a wall. After a day of events and social activities I hit that wall and at that point I need to retreat. I need to go rest, curl up with a book, hang out with my dog and my husband. If not, I very much go to the zoning out that this article speaks of.
5. You screen all your calls - even from friends. You may not pick up your phone even from people you like, but you'll call them back as soon as you are mentally prepared and have energy for the conversation. I saw something on Pinterest that says, "I ignore texts. I let the phone ring. I log off Facebook chat. It's nothing personal, but people need to realize that sometimes I just don't want to talk." I read that and thought, well crap. I identify with that. That makes me sound like an as&%ole. The thing is that I'm not (well most of the time I'm not!). I just have my limits with talking to people. I am not the person who is always texting someone or calling someone. I have my few people that I talk to on a regular basis but chances are, and I'm sorry for this but I've probably ignored a text or phone call or facebook chat from most people in my life at some point.
6. You have a constantly running inner monologue. And let me just pair this one with the fact that introverts generally enjoy writing because I think the two are related. It is said that extroverts don't have the same internal talking that we do. Most introverts need to think first and talk later. A lot of introverts say they feel most creatively charged when they have time to be alone with their thoughts. I find this is true for me. I have a CONSTANT inner monologue running. Some people have this and it manifests as stress and anxiety but not the case for me. I have probably 4 or 5 book ideas running through my head at any given moment. I probably have a couple of poems floating around in there too. I think I'd be bored without this inner monologue. Strange? Maybe.
7. You alternate between phases of work and solitude, and periods of social activity. It is said that when introverts move too much- socializing, being busy, etc. - they get stressed and need to come back to themselves. It seems that there is a balance of social activity periods and periods of solitude and inwardness with introverts. They almost need a recovery period after a ton of social interaction. This is me. If we have had a super busy weekend filled with people and events and rushing around then I start REALLY looking forward to and almost craving Monday when I can be alone and do my own thing.
These are just a few of the things that stood out to me in this article. There are 23 of them and I can relate to almost every one of them. I think that I always associated being introverted with being shy and that isn't the case with introverts at all. It's much different than that. I'm okay today with being introverted. It's okay that I don't want to be "on" all of the time. It's okay if after a long day of socializing I want to go rest when others want to stay and socialize. It's okay that I'd rather stay in and write or read than go to a bunch of social gatherings.
I have seen some great quotes about being an introvert that have described me perfectly. I will leave you with some of those.
"I am not boring or shy. I am an introvert. An artist. A lover. A dreamer. A fighter. A seeker."
"Introverts crave meaning, so party chitchat feels like sandpaper to our psyche."
"Introverts tend to get their energy from within, so being with people is draining. After a day filled with people or activities, introverts tend to feel exhausted and empty. They just need quiet time to come back to themselves."
"I'm an introvert. I love being by myself, love being outdoors, loving taking a long walk with my dogs and looking at the trees, flowers, and the sky."
"Some of an introverts best 24 hours ever are spent with no human interaction. All that delicious time was spent however they wishes and delightfully alone."